Pickens' Perspective: James Blake giving back for a cause
For James Blake, giving back isn't a chore.
Doing service projects isn't an inconvenience, he doesn't view it as a hassle. He views it as life.
Because the projects that Blake has been involved in have been his life. The pro tennis player and Fairfield-native lost his father to cancer, had juvenile diabetes growing up, as well as a rare condition known as Zoster. Blake also gives back to the community through the Harlem Junior Tennis Tournament.
"The causes that I help I happen to be effected by," Blake said in a conference call on Monday. "These are the kinds of things that happen to you when you get older and experience life."
Blake's latest venture with charity will take place in New York on Dec. 1 at "Serving for a Cure with James Blake "when he, along with fellow star American player Andy Roddick. Roddick and Blake will play a mixed-doubles exhibition with two women's players that are to be determined. The event will take place at Pier 94 and will also feature a cocktail hour and after party, and also includes music by Wyclef Jean. All proceeds will benefit cancer research at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.
Blake understands the value of his charity work. He referenced Charles Barkley's, now infamous, "I'm not a role model" commercial, but Blake realizes that he (and a lot of athletes now) have a significant impact on people's lives. Might as well put that to good use, eh?
"We realize the kind of voice and influence that we have," Blake said. "We might as well help those that have less."
Blake is happy that the event is close to home as well. Being born in Yonkers, N.Y., and then coming back to Fairfield means that the tri-state area is home. He recognized the opportunity to spend time with friends and family members while also working toward the cause.
"It means a lot to do it in New York," Blake said. "It'll be fun to see a lot of people and to mingle with a lot of old friends."
Blake is also pleased to see Roddick take part, and I am impressed and pleased with both of them. You hear athletes whine about practice and putting their bodies on the line, well tennis players have the shortest off period of professional sport, and how are Roddick and Blake spending their off time? Playing tennis and using their celebrity in order to raise money for cancer research. How cool is that?
"I joke that this is a huge part of the off-time that I get, a whole week," Blake said.
"It means a lot to me to have Andy make a serious effort here to help me with this. I don't know how to describe the amount of gratitude that I have for the people that are willing to help in a cause so personal to me."
If you can swing it and get down there, it seems like a great event. If not, any donation to cancer research is admirable. I'm sure that we've all had cancer hit us one way or another and a few dollars won't hurt anyone, especially in these parts.
It certainly isn't a chore.